One reads books in order to gain the privilege of living more than one life. People who don't read are trapped in a mine shaft, even if they think the sun is shining. Most New Yorkers wouldn't travel to Minnesota if a bright star shone in the west and hosts of angels were handing out plane tickets, but they might read a book about Minnesota and thereby form some interesting and useful impression of us. This is the benefit of literacy. Life is lonely; it is less so if one reads.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
ARIES (March 21-April 19): As I meditated on your immediate future, I got a vision of you making your way through an obstacle course--scurrying across booby-trapped terrains, shimmying through tunnels, climbing over barriers, leaping across ditches. Curiously, there was not the least bit of stress etched on your face. On the contrary, your eyes were wide and your expression was exultant. You seemed to regard this not as an ordeal, but as a welcome opportunity to expand your resourcefulness.This reminded me so much of the revision process, which I am in the thick of. It does feel like an obstacle course, full of challenges, but I am enjoying it tremendously. The process is stretching me and making me ask hard questions and helping me whittle the story into its rightful shape. My editor is so brilliant. She is able to see things I never could have caught on my own--overuse of certain words, unintentional rhymes, habitual sentence structures, etc. She has such a clear view of both the microcosm and macrocosm of the book. I am learning so much from her guidance.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Monday, November 28, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
I had a wild dream last night. I was at some sort of writing competition at an indoor swimming pool. The pool was a narrow one, about two laps wide, and the water was cloudy, milky, warm. A bunch of writers had gathered; I am not clear what the contest was all about, but we had to swim the length of the pool and back with a jar of preserved fruit between our legs (quite a challenge! We had to swim on our backs). All of the writers were clothed, wearing business suits, not swim suits. I was the only woman in the competition; I'm not sure what I was wearing. The actor Rainn Wilson was in the contest (he's not a writer, but he's married to one--Holiday Reinhorn; what a great pair of names betwee the two of them!--so maybe that's why he was there.) His jar of fruit was very strange; he stopped me after the first length of the pool to show it to me. The fruit was shaped like alien organs; little grenades and stars in all sorts of murky, gleaming colors. He had names for all of the fruit, too--I think one was called "conga." He offered to let me taste it, but then I realized I had fallen behind in the contest, so I kept swimming. Very bizarre...
Saturday, November 26, 2005
You can find out more about the case (which is riddled with blatant discrimination on the part of the courts) here, and you can sign a petition to ask Arnold to grant clemency for Tookie here.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Happy Buy Nothing Day!
I love what the Pittsburgh contingent of CODEPINK is doing to mark the day:
For the second year in a row, Codepink will gather (dressed in pink of course) in downtown Pittsburgh on the most frantic shopping day of the year, to tell consumers to buy nothing - especially the war. We will take the opportunity to stress anti-consumerism, and anti-militarism. We will be passing out large pink price tags, reminding shoppers of the high human and financial price of war. We had a great crowd last year, and hope for more this year. We will be chanting our favorite "We're Women, We're Marching, We're Not Out Shopping".
If I had more energy today, I'd be tempted to throw on some pink and do this at the local mall, myself.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Indecent, self-soiled, bilious
reek of turnip and toadstool
decay, dribbling the black oil
of wilted succulents, the brown
fest of rotting orchids,
in plain view, that stain
of stinkhorn down your front,
that leaking roil of bracket
fungi down your back, you
smolder of refuse, fathering
fumes and boils and powdery
mildews, enduring the constant
interruption of sink-mire
with ear wax, corn smut,
blister rust, backwash
and graveyard debris, rich
with manure bog and dry-rot
harboring not only egg-addled
garbage and wrinkled lip
of ornage-peel mold but also
the clotted breath of overripe
radish and burnt leek, bearing
every dank, maloderous rut
and scarp, all sulphur fissures
and fetid hillside seepages, old,
old, dependable, engendering
forever the stench and stretch
and warm seeth of inevitable
loves you as I do.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May you be surrounded by delicious food today, delicious love, the earth blooming and seething all around us...
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Say it isn't so!
I may not be a Slave to Target, but I am, or at least have been, a real devotee--I love Target. Tar-jhay. I love the way it brings affordable and cool design to the masses. I love how I always see people I know when I go to the majestic-looking Target on Arlington Ave., with the scrubby hills rising up behind it. I have been boycotting Wal-Mart for years, and always assumed Target was the antithesis of that evil empire. I guess I assumed wrong.
I recently learned that Target has been allowing its pharmacists to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, including emergency contraception. Planned Parenthood writes: "Pharmacist refusals are a disturbing trend that can jeopardize women's reproductive health. Denying women timely access to health care is an act of discrimination that could lead to an increased number of unintended pregnancies."
You can sign a petition at Planned Parenthood to turn up the heat at Target. The women of Broadsheet have some great ideas to hit Target where it hurts, as well.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Monday, November 21, 2005
The rest of the weekend involved a staying-up-until-3am Bucksworth show, and an amazing massage/milk bath/facial--the first of my life--the next morning (my sister in law and I finally used the gift certificates my mother-in-law so generously gave us for our birthdays--mine in April, Heather's in June.) To make the weekend more wonderfully surreal, we left the spa in a relaxed daze, blinking at the sunlight, our limbs all oozy, and stumbled right into the Doo Dah Parade!
It comes down to this: Writing novels requires an obsession with our truths. Those truths are not put into novels for witnesses but for co-conspirators. The good novelist knows that Truth is always accompanied by its silent partner: Guilt. She knows that our humanity makes us responsible for events that transpire in this world. She knows, too, that we're not willing to accept the blame. We don't see our culpability even though it's our dollars being spent, our God we prefer above all others, our own image in that silvered mirror that becomes our standard for beauty and innocence. The novelist has the potential to shine light on these blind sides. But she must do it deftly, with a sharp beam. Blindside a reader, and you forfeit everything.
For me there is no such thing as fiction without poetry and politics. If you excise either one, you have taken the heart of us all. You won't get rich following my advice, but you may come up with something close to true.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
In my last post, I visited Lara Zeises' blog. Now, I'm delighted to have her visit my blog on her own GCC tour. Lara is the author of three young adult novels--her latest, Anyone But You, was praised for its "pitch-perfect narration" by Kirkus Reviews (and that's high praise coming from the notoriously cranky Kirkus). Her recent book release party not only featured skate board demos, and custom-made Pop-Tart ice cream; it also raised money for some wonderful causes--10% of all book sales went to benefit the libraries destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and proceeds from the skateboard raffle went towards building skate parks in Delaware. Very cool!
Lara's two other novels for young adults are Bringing Up the Bones (2002), an honor book for the 2001 Delacorte Press Prize Competition, and Contents Under Pressure, which also served as her thesis project at Emerson College, where she earned her MFA in creative writing. She was awarded a 2005 Emerging Artist Fellowship in Literature-Fiction from the Delaware (state) Division of the Arts.
In addition to writing, Lara teaches part-time at the University of Delaware, where she received her BA in English-Journalism. She also facilitates creative writing workshops for both teens and adults.
That last line prompted my questions to Lara:
--Your bio mentions that you teach writing to both adults and teenagers. What have you learned from your teenage students? Do you have a favorite writing exercise? And what words of advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Teenage writers are less likely to be inhibited. When I first started teaching the adult creative writing course, I couldn't get my students to commit to more than a paragraph at a time for homework. When I do one- or two-day workshops with teens, they dive right into the meat of things. They love to partner up and share their group work. They'll less concerned - believe it or not - of making fools of themselves.
My favorite writing exercise to teach is the one where you have to write an entire paragraph in single syllable words. It's so hard, but it highlights how easy it is to use fifty-cent words, when sometimes a two-cent word will do. The one I use the most, though, is writing letters or diary entries in the voice of my characters. It really helps me to get to know them better.
As for aspiring writers: READ EVERYTHING YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON. Even if it's outside of your comfort level. Read books, magazines, newspapers. Watch good movies. Watch bad movies. Soak it all up, because it will all shape how your perceive the world - and how you translate those perceptions onto paper.
Wonderful, Lara! Thanks so much for stopping by!
Today, GCC gives us two authors for the price of one--Lola Douglas is also popping into Fruitful to promote her first novel, True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet. I couldn't resist asking these questions after reading about Lola's favorite word:
--I noticed on your website that your favorite word is "luscious." That's my favorite word, too! I love how it feels in my mouth, how it sounds, what it means. Since I am obsessed with fruit, I have to ask--what do you think is the most luscious fruit and why? Also, what do you think is the most luscious part about being a woman author, and why?Thanks, Lola! Enjoy the sisterhood of the GCC...
An ice cold plum with crisp skin - because of that poem about the plums in the ice box. Mmmm. Plums. Even the WORD looks luscious.
Women authors are less likely to backstab - at least, in my opinion. The sisterhood is definitely one of the best things about being part of this profession. Plus, despite what some people say about pink covers and the term "chick lit," I find neither demeaning in any way. I love it when people consider me a chick lit author. That's who I'm writing for - cool ass chicks who like to read.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Thanks to all the women authors who let me pop into their online homes--I appreciate your generosity tremendously!
Update--I have one last visit: Laurie Stolarz is hosting me at her blog--in the posting, you can read one of Ava's dreams from The Book of Dead Birds. And now we will put the tour to bed. Sweet dreams!
Speaking of CODEPINK--I'm thrilled I was invited to help represent CODEPINK at tomorrow night's Recruiting for Peace event, honoring Cindy Sheehan, Jodie Evans, Dolores Huerta, and Daniel Ellsberg. I can't wait.
And for those of you who will be in LA tomorrow night, my husband's band Bucksworth will be playing at TAIX at 10:30pm. It should be a great show.
Part of me wishes I had written the book earlier so I could have taken advantage of this being the 150 year anniversary of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (since the book plays a large role within my book.) But everything else about the timing of this book has been so amazing, I have absolutely nothing to complain about. And I'm fulling enjoying Whitman's sesquecentennial. I was happy to read about this new Leaves of Grass exhibit at the New York Public Library; especially this line in the article: "As ever with Whitman, the goal is an open, perceiving, feeling self..." Thanks to Whitman, that's pretty much the goal of Self Storage, too.
CALL FOR PAPERS: She’s Such a Geek, An Anthology by and for Women Obsessed with Computers, Science, Comic Books, Gaming, Spaceships, and Revolution
Slated for Fall 2006
Geeks are taking over the world. They make the most popular movies and games, pioneer new ways to communicate using technology, and create new ideas that will change the future. But the stereotype is that only men can be geeks. So when are we going to hear from the triumphant female nerds whose stories of outer space battles will inspire generations, and whose inventions will change the future? Right now. Female geeks are busting out of the labs and into the spotlight. They have the skills and knowledge that can inspire social progress, scientific breakthroughs, and change the world for the better, and they’re making their voices heard, some for the first time, in Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders’ book She’s Such a Geek.
This anthology will celebrate women who have flourished in the male-dominated realms of technical and cultural arcana. We’re looking for a wide range of personal essays about the meaning of female nerdhood by women who are in love with genomics, obsessed with blogging, learned about sex from Dungeons and Dragons, and aren’t afraid to match wits with men or computers. The essays in She’s Such a Geek will explain what it means to be passionately engaged with technical or obscure topics and how to deal with it when people tell you that your interests are weird, especially for a girl. This book aims to bust stereotypes of what it means to be a geek, as well as what it means to be female.
More than anything, She’s Such a Geek is a celebration and call to arms: it’s a hopeful book which looks forward to a day when women will pilot spaceships, invent molecular motors, design the next ultra-tiny supercomputer, write epics, and run the government. We want introspective essays that explain what being a geek has meant to you. Describe how you’ve fought stereotypes to be accepted among nerds. Explore why you are obsessed with topics and ideas that are supposed to be “for boys only.” Tell us how you felt the day you realized that you would be devoting the rest of your life to discovering algorithms or collecting comic books. We want strong, personal writing that is also smart and critical. We don’t mind if you use the word “fuck,” and we don’t mind if you use the word “telomerase.” Be celebratory, polemical, wistful, angry, and just plain dorky.
Possible topics include:
· what turned you into a geek
· your career in science, technology, or engineering
· growing up geeky
· being a geek in high school today
· battling geek stereotypes (i.e racial stereotypes and geekdom, cultural analysis of geek chic and the truth about nerds, the idea that women have to choose between being sexually desirable and smart, stereotypes about geek professions such as computer programmers)
· sex and dating among geeks
·science fiction fandom
· role-playing game or comic-book subcultures
· the joys of math
· blogging or videogames
· female geek bonding
· geek role models for women
· feminist commentary on geek culture
· women’s involvement in DiY science and technology groups
· Stories from women involved in geek pop and underground cultures. These might include comic book writers, science fiction writers, electronic music musicians, and women interested in the gaming world.
· women’s web networks and web zine grrrl culture
· Issues of sexism in any or all of the above themes
Editors: Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders are geeky women writers. Annaleeis a contributing editor at Wired magazine and writes the syndicated column Techsploitation. Charlie is the author of Choir Boy (Soft Skull Press) and publisher of other magazine.
Publisher: Seal Press, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group,
publishes groundbreaking books by and for women in a variety of topics.
Deadline: January 15, 2006
Length: 3,000-6,000 words
Format: Essays must be typed, double-spaced, and paginated. Please include your address, phone number, email address, and a short bio on the
last page. Essays will not be returned.
Submitting: Send essay electronically as a Document or Rich Text Format file to Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Payment: $100 plus two books
Reply: Please allow until February 15 for a response. If you haven’t received a response by then, please assume your essay has not been selected. It is not possible to reply to every submission personally.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgendered people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
--There's a Dead Person Flowing My Sister Around
--George Bush shoots brother bb gun
--how to tell you i love you gayle
(That last one is so sweet. I hope the person figured out how to tell the gayle in question that she is loved...)
Writers and poets are considered dangerous for good reason--we can tell the truth; we can cut through the veils, the lies, of power with a few sharp words. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that some governments resort to imprisoning, silencing, even murdering (as in the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa, which I mentioned yesterday) those who choose to use their voices to try to bring about change, but it breaks my heart every time I hear about another case. Freedom of Speech is under attack in our own country, of course; I was upset to discover that the Patriot Act is being renewed, that our government still has the authority to snoop at our library files, our bookstore receipts. I am grateful for the brave librarians and booksellers who have refused to hand over information. And I am grateful for all the brave writers around the world who continue to use their voices, even under threat of persecution.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
--"Normally you should not judge a book by its cover. But the cover of "The Book of Dead Birds (and the title itslef--what should be so interesting about dead birds?!) appeared somehow strange at first sight and therefore invited me to think a bit about the book.
Looking at the cover, one can see a picture of a sea or river. The water has a pleasant color; some parts are lightened up by the sun. Nevertheless the photo creates a depressing and somehow cold atmosphere. No people or animals can be seen. The trees in the background do not have leaves; the plants in the water appear dark. The whole landscape seems to be lifeless.
The photo is a a mixture of light and dark with the darkness and tristesse dominating. Having read the first pages of the novel, I think that the photo reflects the lives of Ava and her mother. This light and dark relationship becomes obvious right from the beginning..."
(The student goes on to explore this dark/light dichotomy throughout the novel--I love it.)
--This sentence, from a different paper, tickled me a lot: "It seems quite unusual that a little author presenting a story makes it at the same time somehow interesting and the curiosity of the reader is awakened!"
--I found the conclusion of this paper very touching...(it has a bit of a spoiler, so if you haven't read the book, you might want to avoid it):
"The relationship to Darryl might not solve the non-communicative situation between Ava and her mother, but at least he could be the reason for Ava not feeling Other anymore, but maybe feeling herself, feeling unique and feeling loved in the end."
Update: You can also read a portion of my essay from It's a Boy, "Zen and the Art of Extracurricular Activities", over at my friend Andi's blog (and you can read about Andi's recent experience as a tv superstar!)
I will be giving a reading at the Palm Desert Library tonight. If you happen to be a desert denizen, please swing on by! I love the trip out there--it's always a treat to drive past the Cabazon dinosaurs (even though they have been co-opted by Intelligent Design proponents), and surreal fields of windmills. Maybe I'll even pick up a date shake on the way. I wonder if I'll catch a whiff of the Salton Sea...
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The company's website has a specific social action campaign built around each Participant film. "North Country" is linked to Stand Up, a campaign geared at ending sexual harassment and domestic violence. The "Syriana" site, which will launch next week, will be linked to Oil Change, a campaign to reduce America's dependence on oil.I hope the adaptation of The Book of Dead Birds will end up on their desk. I think it would be a beautiful fit.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
--"I think art, music should be sensual," she added. "Not necessarily sexual. I think that's a huge difference between that N and that X. It's more than the 11 letters of difference. Sensual is everything that refers to the delight of the senses. And that's what artists do, is stimulate the senses in any possible way. I don't think I have to hang myself a little sign that says 'Hey, I'm sexy,' and then take it off and now say, 'Hey, now I'm serious.' I can just fluctuate and oscillate from one side to the other whenever my instincts tell me to."
--And she was still working on "Oral Fixation, Vol. 2" after its single, "Don't Bother," had been released. She was under deadline pressure by that point but, she says, "You can't ripen a fruit by hitting it with rocks."
--"Sometimes a melody suggests in what language that song should be written," she said. "I just learned to listen to what the song wants to tell me."
--Rehearsal beckoned; in a few days, Shakira would be singing the songs in public for the first time. "Just today," she said, "I'm starting to get in touch with the songs from the performer point of view. O.K., how am I going to interpret this with my body? How am I going to start to have now a physical relationship with my songs?"
--"My hips tell me where and when I should move," she had said before returning to work with the band. "And my hips don't lie - my hips tell me the truth."
Friday, November 11, 2005
I hope this Veteran's Day will give many people a chance to reflect on the tragic, unnecessary war in Iraq. Let's use our outrage and heartbreak to help bring our brave troops home. Please consider writing to your representatives to ask what they are doing to get us out of this quagmire. You can find a directory of elected officials here.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Several more GCC visits are on the horizon; for now, you can read the story behind The Book of Dead Birds over at MJ Rose's site, Backstory.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Cut, With Sugar
after Sylvia Plath
What a thrill--
My thumb instead of an onion,
Except I wasn't slicing onions--
There wasn't a knife at all,
But sugar, I actually cut myself
With sugar, the crystals
We had grown in a jar,
Attempting to make rock
Candy. I suppose we hadn't
Dissolved the sucrose enough,
So instead of clinging
To the seed crystals
On the wooden stick,
The sugar stuck itself
Everywhere, turning the whole
Jar into a sweet, jagged, geode.
When I tried to pull some
Out for the kids
With a spoon, a shard
Broke off and wedged itself
Into my thumb.
I was surprised
By how much sugar
How much it still hurts.
This tiny red line,
This supposed sweetness,
Betrays a great aching
Maw. Oh my
Homunculus, I am ill,
Writes Plath, but I hope
I am not. Please
Let this not be an omen.
Sugar in the blood
Has plagued my mother's family
For generations--my grandfather's legs
Cut off, my cousin's
Seven-month fetus dead,
My aunt Sylvia the most recent
Diagnosee. Her last name is Thall--
Almost an anagram for Plath,
Come to think of it, if you
replace an L with a P. I doubt Plath
Was a former show girl, though,
Doubt she could do the splits well
Into her fifties, before the adult
Onset diabetes kicked in.
Of course, Plath didn't even make it
To that age. I will be thirty
This year. Thirty, Plath's last year,
And I am just starting
To feel like an adult--The thin
I am, I suppose, an onset adult,
And I can feel
Pulp of my heart
Confront its small
Mill of silence.
Oh my god, please.
I don't want
Our polling place is the American Legion hall, in the park down the street from our house. I'ts a wonderful funky old building with a ballroom that features the biggest disco ball I have ever seen in my life (and it's a cool disco ball, too--handmade, with shards of mirror pieced together, mosaic-fashion.) We have been voting there for years, and thought we knew the whole building, but last night, a volunteer led us down a hallway to a world we had no idea existed. There is a whole rat-pack era lounge in the back, complete with black vinyl barstools and a pool table and rat-pack era clientele. It felt like stumbling into a David Lynch movie, or falling down a rabbit hole. They serve tacos on Tuesday night, steak dinners on Friday night (not sure if they have anything I can eat that night; a baked potato, maybe),and breakfast on Sunday mornings. We are huge fans of breakfast out, and had no idea there was a place we could walk to on Sunday morning for a plate of eggs. I love making unexpected discoveries like this! Matt went back later last night with our friend Dave to surprise him with the place. Sadly, they weren't able to sit down with a beer; it turns out the lounge is only open to American Legion members at certain hours (although the meals are open to the public). Maybe we can get a membership, since my dad is a WWII veteran. Or maybe my anti-war activities would prevent that from happening. We'll see...
Speaking of veterans, you can take a sneak peek at the Veteran's Day op-ed I co-wrote with Medea Benjamin here. I'll let you know where it lands on Friday.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
My brother just sent some great photos from our softball game (heretofore known as Buzzball)--you can see a couple above. He also sent a great description of the game--when I wrote about it yesterday, I was all swept up in the emotion of the experience; Jon captured the gorgeous mayhem of it here:
Buzzball is a rare form of 16" softball where there is only one team. People play whatever position they feel like playing in the moment and can bat at any time by saying, "I want to bat now." They can also leave the field whenever they want by simply thinking quietly to themselves, "I'm thirsty," or "I'm tired." Since there is no opposition, there is no real advantage to obtaining outs. On the other hand, if you want to tag someone out you can without too much impact on the team. This is because...Photo key: In the top picture, my parents give each other high fives after one of them smacked the ball into the ether (they both had some excellent at-bats. My mom had a great warm-up wiggle, too!) I am at first base, ready to cower from the ball.
1) Since there is no opposition, your team can withstand an unlimited number or outs during the course of one gigantic inning of play.
2) Even if you tag someone out they can continue running the bases if they feel like it.
Finally, the game ends when everyone has wandered off the field. A typical score might be 29, or, if no one is paying too much attention, 6 or maybe 4. Ultimately, our plan is to form an international league, where we can compare our team's score with the score of another team in some other part of the world.
In any case, Buzzball is underway, and our founding father, Buzz, is in fine form, as all can see.
The bottom picture is post-Buzzball giddiness. In the top row, you will find Papa Buzz, himself (in his genuine Cubs jersey), my husband Matt (in the Bummer t-shirt I picked up at the Green Fest), and my son Arin (I wasn't planning on turning this into a fashion log, but as you can see, he is rocking the Cellular skate shop tee). In the bottom row, you will find game-organizer and -documentarian brudda Jon (not sure who he's wearing), my daughter Hannah (in a Japanese baseball jersey I picked up in Greenwich Village when I was 18; the velvet characters supposedly translate into "Big Construction"), me (note the Vote shirt!), and sister-in-all Magdalene (sporting a CODEPINK shirt under her sweatshirt.)
Not pictured in these shots, but with us and looking fabulous (not to mention playing fabulous), were my mother in law, Patricia, my sister-in-law Heather, and her kids, Maggie and Otto.
Viva la Buzzball!
Did you know that we can go INSIDE polling places as OBSERVERS? (Sec. 14294)
There has been lots of discussion about the offensive Diebold machines, but not much lately about all the other 'glitches'. Voter disenfranchisement, intimidation, last minute polling place changes, long lines, names missing from the roster, etc... So if you can make it to be an observer at your neighborhood polling place... the important point is end of day, grab a good book, (eat something, you will be there late), a friend and go to your polling place at around 5PM.
The following was taken from the LA County Registrar's instructions to the official poll workers.
Following that is the protocol for closing up. Print it out and take with you so you can make sure what you see what's supposed to be happening. Watch carefully. Be like a fly on the wall and report back any 'irregularities' to Sarah (310) 204-5674 (leave on msg machine).
*POLL WATCHERS AND OBSERVERS (the following from the registrar's instructions)
"In addition to those officially designated by political organizations as "Poll Watchers," anyone may observe the electoral process at polling places.
Poll Watchers may look at the Roster of Voters as long as the voting process is not delayed. They may not at any time handle voted or unvoted ballots. Only voters and Pollworkers may be in the area of the voting booths or the Ballot Box. Only Pollworkers and persons signing the Roster may sit at the table used by the Board. Poll Watchers may be present before the polls open and after the polls close and throughout the voting day.
Cooperate with Poll Watcher requests as long as they do not interfere with the normal voting process and do not violate the Elections Code.
In your Election Guide & Checklist you are instructed to post a single copy of the Street Index. You are also instructed to draw a line through the name of each voter who has voted on the posted copy of the Street Index every hour up until 6 p.m.
This is required by California State Elections Code (Sec. 14294) and assists political campaign representatives and/or members of the public in knowing who has voted. Campaigns use this information in their "Get Out the Vote" efforts. Please keep your Street Index current and cooperate with those who are seeking this information."
If you get there before 5, ask to see this list and count the number of people who have voted so far. Save the number and call it in to Sarah (213) 804-7824 -leave message precinct number, number voted out of how many and time of day. If you can and are so inspired, stay until the polls close and observe the way the polling place is closed. Click here for a pdf of how the polls are regulated to be closed- so you can truly be in the know and ensure this election is handled correctly. We are the people, and it is our responsibility to watch the elections closely and carefully.
Monday, November 07, 2005
"We're telling [girls] to think about the fact that they're being degraded," Emma Blackman-Mathis, the 16-year-old co-chair of the group, told RedEye on Tuesday. "We're all going to come together in this one effort to fight this message that we're getting from pop culture."Guess what? It worked!
My dad went to Cubs Fantasy Camp when he was 65. He has been a lifelong Cubs fan, so it truly was a dream come true to play with Ernie Banks and other Cubs luminaries at their spring training camp. And to later have the chance to play a reunion game in Wrigley Field itself--and hit a powerhouse single there--was an overwhelming experience for him (and the rest of the family; I screamed my lungs out in the stands). I was glad that we remembered we had a bag full of his bats, his jerseys, his signed baseballs from the camp, at home; it was great to watch his expression when we unveiled them. He slipped on the home team jersey (with number 14, Ernie Banks' number) before we started to play.
I was 16, and just starting to go out with boys, when my dad went to Cubs Fantasy Camp. I thought of that yesterday as I ran around with my kids, who are getting so big (especially my son, who is 15, and starting to date now, too.) The passage of time boggles my mind. It reminds me that we need to take time to play with the people we love, really play, while we have the chance. I'm so glad we had the chance to do just that yesterday; I hope we'll do it again soon.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
You can be a peach and support the efforts of Impeach PAC. If you don't have the funds to donate now, you can sign a petition (to be sent to Congress) here.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Where do we go, what do think when the outside world demands we define ourselves only by fading borders and fragile, ambiguous nationalities? How to write about what actually matters to us — love and daily life, desire and non-political feelings (like maybe towards a sibling, or a parent, not just an "enemy" in the news)? What, in the end, is real freedom and true cherished land? For me, it is inside us, those very sensory details, smells, touches. Writing Edges: O Israel, O Palestine (which focused on family conflicts, on people simply thrown into the maelstrom of war without any real purpose for being there except by birth) showed me a way to make my own peace with the problems of self-definition, and how to transcend those literal borders, the burdens of a prescribed "nationality." It was a terrific journey. And now, when people ask me why I spent so much time describing the details and smells of fig trees, limestone, and pine needles instead of the politics of the land, I feel I can say: "Because they are part of me, they are me, where I really lived."
Long after writing The Book of Dead Birds, the Salton Sea area (where much of the novel is set) continues to fascinate me. It is such a compelling landscape, so bleak and beautiful all at once. The poor sea (actually an inland lake; one created by mistake in the middle of the desert) has been plagued by natural and unnatural disasters over the last few decades. Environmentalists and politicians have tried to come up with plans to save the sea, but so far, all of the ideas have been too expensive or too controversial to bear fruit. My friend Iqbal recently sent me this article about a promising development:
UC Riverside scientists are able to improve water quality by 90 percent in the rivers flowing into the Salton Sea, the largest lake in California, by using two kinds of water-treatment chemicals that remove phosphorus and silt from the river water.Iqbal, who wrote the article as a press release for UCR, quotes Chris Amhrein, professor of soil and environmental sciences:
“The Salton Sea at one time attracted more visitors than Yellowstone National Park,” Amrhein said. “If nothing is done, this sea will shrink, exposing lake sediments that could generate dust and worsen air quality. Fish and fish-eating birds would disappear in 10-30 years, and be replaced perhaps by birds that eat brine shrimp. And the sea would continue to smell, which might even get worse. Doing something to address the Salton Sea’s problems on the other hand could greatly stimulate eco-tourism here and boost the economy of this region.”I hope it will work! It would be wonderful if the region could come back to life (and less pungent life at that.)
Thursday, November 03, 2005
I am still torn about how I feel about Google Print. I can understand why the Authors Guild is upset (to the point of filing suit because they believe it violates copyright law.) Many publishers are up in arms, as well. Google defends itself by writing:
The Google Print program respects copyright. We regret that this group has chosen litigation to try to stop a program that will make books and the information within them more discoverable to the world. Google Print directly benefits authors and publishers by increasing awareness of and sales of the books in the program. And, if they choose, authors and publishers can exclude books from the program if they don't want their material included.
Many legal experts say that Google Print falls well within fair use. I am all for making literature more accessible, and am happy to be able to search books digitally--it makes reseach so much easier. At the same time, I know how the publishing industry is not as robust as it once was, and this (like the recent music file sharing controversies) probably doesn't help matters. As an author who wants to keep publishing, and hopes to be able to make a living that way, I have to be aware of this aspect of things. But as someone who believes information should be widely available, I embrace any movement that can bring more of that to the people.
After mentioning my own local wild parrots at E Lockhart's site yesterday, I was very sad to hear that the famous wild parrots of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco have had their lives disrupted after one of the trees they considered home was chopped down. I hope this story can have a happy ending; Mark Bittner, who wrote a book about the parrots and was featured in the documentary about them, is doing whatever he can to make that happen:
Bittner, a formerly homeless person and unemployed musician who took to the parrots while he was caretaker of a home on the hill, feeds the birds, has given them names and estimates there are about 200 of them.
"I have to look out for them," he said Wednesday. "They helped me out. Now, I have to help them out."
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I am not only hosting a blog book tour today, I am ON a blog book tour today. This is my week to make the rounds of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit to promote The Book of Dead Birds.
Today, you can read an interview with me at Southern Comfort, the great writing/publishing blog created by Karin Gillespie (who also created the GCC!) You can also read my BIRDfriend list (which was so much fun to write; it covers birds I've had crushes on over the years) over at E. Lockhart's Boyfriend List site (The Boyfriend List is her wonderful post-modern young adult novel; she always asks guest authors to write their own boyfriend lists when they visit her blog. I've been with my husband since I was 19, so I don't have much of a boyfriend list to speak of, but I do have plenty of birds in my past!)
I'll let you know where else I show up!
Update: Alesia Holliday and recent GCC visitor Megan Crane are also gracious enough to host me today! More to come...
You can read Andi's wonderful introduction to IT'S A BOY here, and a great Q & A about the anthology (complete with adorable pictures of Andi and her two kids) here.
My essay in the book, "Zen and the Art of Extracurricular Activities", explores my attempt to reconcile my identity as a pacifist with my son's desire to learn archery and play paintball. Happily, Arin has drifted away from these violence-tinged pursuits since I wrote the essay, but now I have another similar dilemma on my hands. My husband is the proud owner of a new air pellet gun, which his friend gave him for his birthday. He has promised not to shoot at any living creatures (I am going to have to show him the recent Comment a couple of posts down about the lasting regret that can come from shooting a bird with such a gun). He prefers inanimate targets. Still, I hate to see that clear plastic weapon, which sits on his desk right across the office from my desk, a canister of pellets next to it looking suspiciously like candy. Of course, my son is intrigued by the gun and has shot it a few times in the back yard. Of course I cringe any time either of them pick it up. My daughter, like me, has no interest in the thing.
Living with boys--and I'm counting my husband as a boy in this case--is a constant learning process. Like Andi, I grew up without boys in the house (my half-brother was grown by the time I was born), and boys always seemed like such alien creatures to me. I never had an ultrasound when I was pregnant with Arin, but I knew from the beginning that he was a boy. I could feel it. I could feel that I was in for a grand and wild adventure. I was right. Having a son is like landing on a whole new planet. It's a planet I love, a planet I am so happy to be able to explore, but it's definitely foreign ground. Now that Arin is a teenager, the ground feels even more uncharted to me, but he's an excellent (not to mention tall--how did he get so tall?!) tour guide. It's a real privelege to share this house with him, to watch him grow into a kind and funny and intelligent man. He may become a man who shoots off a pellet gun every now and again, but I know he has a healthy respect, and a healthy desire, for peace in the world, as well.
Andi, who is the author of the groundbreaking momoir, Mothershock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It, has two more books coming out over the next several months--Literary Mama: Reading for the Matenally Inclined, and IT'S A GIRL: Women Writers on Raising Daughters. I am lucky enough to be represented in both of them. I'll be sure to share more info when the books come out. As if she's not busy enough, Andi is also working on a novel--you can read a tantalizing excerpt here. She has just embarked upon National Novel Writing Month, which I'm thrilled about, because I can't wait to read the rest of the story.
Good luck, Andi, with NaNo, with the Blog Book Tour, with mothering, with everything! It is a pleasure to know you.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Carson did not want to write Silent Spring. True, she was painfully aware of the indiscriminate use of pesticides, and had proposed articles on the problem to the magazines that she was writing for, as far back as the late 1940s, but Silent Spring was in many ways not her kind of project. In her great sea trilogy, Under the Sea Wind, The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea, a singular voice emerges, at once rigorous and lyrical, a voice she had come to know as her own. It was not, in so many ways, the right voice for a "crusading" book on DDT.In raising her voice, Rachel Carson was able to give voice to the Spring, as well. May we continue to keep her legacy alive (so we can keep our planet alive).
By 1957, however, the pesticide problem was totally out of hand, and as an attempt to prevent an infestation of gypsy moths in the city of New York clearly demonstrated, "The gypsy moth," Carson wrote,
"is a forest insect, certainly not an inhabitant of cities. Nor does it live in meadows, cultivated fields, gardens or marshes. Nevertheless, the planes hired by the United States Department of Agriculture and the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets showered down the prescribed DDT-in-fuel-oil with impartiality. They sprayed gardens and dairy farms, fishponds and salt marshes. They sprayed the quarter-acre lots of suburbia, drenching a housewife making a desperate effort to cover her garden before the roaring plane reached her, and showered insecticide over children at play and commuters at railway stations. At Setauket a fine quarter horse drank from a trough in a field which the planes had sprayed: ten hours later it was dead."
This was probably the single event that most influenced Carson to embark properly on Silent Spring. "There would be no peace for me," she said, "if I kept silent."
Mice can sing!. I was fascinated by this study, that discovered that male mice sing to their mates (in a pitch inaudible to humans):
If the analysis by the researchers is confirmed, mice can be added to the short list of creatures that sing in the presence of the opposite sex, including songbirds, humpback whales, porpoises, insects and, possibly, bats.
"There was joy in this discovery," Holy said. "We didn't expect it."
Aren't those the most joyful discoveries--the unexpected ones?!
The researchers say that this discovery may help neurobiologists understand how the human brain learns language. This is exciting--I love learning new things about how the brain works, how language works. At the same time, I hate the thought of mouse brains being experimented upon. The first protests I ever attended were animal rights protests at the Northwestern University labs. Maybe these experiments can be done by MRI?
Despite the ramifications, it's nice to know there is more song in the world than we had realized. There is so much we can't hear, so much we don't understand, so much for us to explore more deeply...
(And, no, I have no idea what a "pingle" is! Must be mouse language...)
I'm not signing up for NaNoWriMo this year because I will be deep in Self Storage revisions--my editor's notes should arrive any day now. I can't wait to dive back into the story! In the meanwhile, I'm trying to write as much of my new novel as possible, but I don't think I can commit to 50,000 words this month and still keep all the hair on my head.